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How football and other sport is being affected by coronavirus in the Bishop's Stortford area

Bishop's Stortford Football Club's match at East Thurrock United tomorrow (March 14) has been postponed after the BetVictor Isthmian League put a halt to fixtures due to the coronavirus.

The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women's Super League and FA Women's Championship collectively agreed today (March 13) to postpone the professional game in England until Friday April 3 at the earliest.

And the Blues, whose next Premier Division game is currently due to be against Carshalton Athletic at the ProKit UK Stadium on March 21, will have to wait and see if a longer suspension is put in place by the Isthmian League.

Bishop's Stortford are waiting to hear if their Isthmian League, Premier Division campaign will be affected by coronavirus. Picture: Vikki Lince
Bishop's Stortford are waiting to hear if their Isthmian League, Premier Division campaign will be affected by coronavirus. Picture: Vikki Lince

In a statement, the Isthmian League said: "The safety and wellbeing of all those associated with the league - our players, volunteers, club officials, match officials and supporters - is our number one priority, and we are closely monitoring the situation and carefully following advice from Public Health England.

"The board has decided that as an immediate step matches scheduled for tomorrow and next midweek will be postponed and we will review the situation daily as to when fixtures can recommence.

"We understand the enormous financial impact this will have on many clubs, but the board feels that it is better to err on the side of caution at this time. We hope that by taking this step we can delay the spread of the virus and we earnestly hope that with the right approach there will be as few persons as possible suffering either directly or indirectly.

"We look forward to the resumption of the fixtures as soon as possible."

In its statement on suspending professional football due to coronavirus, the FA said: "The decision is being made purely on the number of cases requiring self-isolation and the impact on facilities.

"Given the steps being taken across clubs, there is no alternative but for today's action. However, all parties are committed at this time to trying to complete this season's domestic fixture programme and are liaising to establish appropriate options to do so.

"We are liaising with the National League pyramids (men's and women's) and will continue to offer guidance and support. Any decision to continue playing or to postpone their respective competitions is a matter for each league as autonomous bodies within the game."

Meanwhile, Sawbridgeworth Town's matches against Ilford and Tower Hamlets, which were scheduled for Saturday and Monday respectively, have been postponed by the Essex Senior League after a Tower Hamlets player tested positive for the virus. Tower Hamlets last played Ilford, who have subsequently played Enfield, so Enfield's next fixtures have also been called off.

Stansted are due to host Walthamstow tomorrow, but an Essex Senior League spokeswoman said the competition could potentially get suspended for at least seven days.

"We will of course keep up to date with all the latest advice, and will continue to monitor the situation whilst we await the FA guidance on this matter," said the spokeswoman.

The Indie understands this weekend's youth football involving teams from the likes of Bishop's Stortford Community Football Club, Real Stortford and Thorley Manor is going ahead as planned.

A Hertfordshire FA statement said: "The current advice from the Government and the FA is that grassroots fixtures do not need to be cancelled as a matter of course. As such any decision to continue playing or to postpone their respective competitions remains a matter for each league as autonomous bodies within the game.

"We are actively monitoring Government advice in case the situation changes and additional measures become necessary. As a matter of good practice we would recommend that leagues and clubs adopt the same approach. Further updates will be [given] as appropriate."

Bishop's Stortford Hockey Club's matches in the East Men's and Women's Leagues are also believed to be unaffected by coronavirus at this moment in time.

Bishop's Stortford Rugby Club's men's first team already had the weekend off in National League 1 with their next fixture due to be the visit of Old Elthamians on March 21. A rearranged game between Sale and Birmingham Moseley - won 26-10 by the former - went ahead last night (March 12).

In a club statement, vice-chairman Niall McCrae said: "'Best advice' in respect of the coronavirus situation is being regularly updated and in light of this we, as a club, wish to communicate our current position with regards to mini, youth and indeed senior rugby. At the time of writing the current Government and RFU guidelines are such that we do not need to cancel rugby training or fixtures.

"The executive committee will be constantly reviewing this position for each section of the club and will immediately communicate any change in our position.

"The current advice is to continue to wash hands thoroughly and to self isolate should you have coronavirus symptoms. In addition, you are now advised that should you develop a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, we would ask that you please do not attend the club for at least seven days.

"If, though, you make the decision as a player or the parent of a player not to attend training or match, please inform your lead coach, team manager or captain as soon as possible."

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